A good romantic drama relies on the chemistry between its leads. A mismatched pair can ruin even the best plots so getting the right love team to portray the roles is key. Luckily, for Dan Villegas’ Exes Baggage, Carlo Aquino and Angelica Panganiban more than deliver. Their chemistry is incredible and it’s what drives the film to its well-deserved success.
In Exes Baggage, Aquino and Panganiban star as Nix and Pia, two young Filipinos who meet in a bar and fall in love. They’re polar opposites: Nix is somewhat shy and reserved, while Pia is loud and outspoken. They also have different views on love. Nix is scared to enter a new relationship after a bad breakup and Pia believes that you should continue loving, even if it hurts.
It’s a story that we’ve heard countless times before, but it works well because of its leads. Panganiban is amazing, delivering punchline after punchline, alternating it with poignant scenes that she carries just as well. Even if Aquino’s character is more restrained, he deftly keeps up with his co-star, catching all the quips and responding with aplomb. There are times when I felt like the whole movie was an extended improv act, where Villegas only gave the actors guidelines and allowed them to breathe life into the story without a solid script.
Much of the success of Exes Baggage is that Aquino and Panganiban are real-life exes. Because of their history as a couple, you see them relaxed and at ease with each other. There are no awkward moments, no missed sparks. It feels like you’re watching a real relationship form… and then crumble. You feel each line, you get kilig, and you are affected at that pivotal scene towards the end.
The millennial feel of the film can alienate those who are over the ~*aesthetic*~ (or those outside the age group), but it’s such an enjoyable watch that it doesn’t matter in the end. Aquino and Panganiban take us on this emotional journey and we love it, excess baggage and all.